I'm preparing for my first century in mid-April. It is a climbing century, Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic (in San Diego county, in Southern California).
I've been steadily upping my "long rides" every other weekend, and doing climbs and hill-repeats on the weekends where I'm not doing long rides. My climbing rides are roughly 40-45 miles. And this past weekend my long ride was 56 miles. During the week I commute by bike depending on weather. Daily commute length can vary from 16 miles round trip to 30 miles round trip (if I take the long way to work).
Now to my questions - I seem to be hitting a limitation whereby I feel my legs become fatigued around the 40-45 mile range. I feel the beginning stages of cramping up. During my last long ride, I made conscious efforts to drink every 10 -15 minutes, taking in fuel (GU-packet) every 30-45 minutes. I've also started (within the last two weeks) taking a men's multi-vitamin which includes potassium.
At this point, I haven't done enough long duration rides to fully understand my nutritional needs. From my symptoms, does it sound like I'm not taking in enough fuel? Is what am experiencing referred to as bonking? Once I start feeling that cramping sensation, I feel like I have to really be careful of my pace and cadence to keep myself from fully cramping up. And if the road turns uphill while I'm in the beginning phases of cramping, it only gets worse.
What I haven't been doing during my long rides is stopping for rest. My last ride was just under 4 hours and I pretty much rode the whole time. Do you think if I stopped for 10-15 minutes (perhaps a coffee or food break), would that help with my cramps?